>> i will make a feature that just came out because we had our 45th anniversary this year and a number of people and historians and legal scholars to take in the one or two best books in the field that have come out in the last 45 years and a total of nine. >> they can go to the freeze and.com and the better newsstands. >> pennacchio was your second book. a conspiracy theory, jesse walker is the author and here again is the cover. ..
this is about a half-hour. >> and you're watching book tv on c-span2. and we are in london talking with british authors and joining us now is author and historian whose most recent nonfiction book is jerusalem the biography. if i may start with a "you have in the front of your book. this is it. jerusalem is an old nymphomaniac to squeezes lover after lover to death before shrugging him off with a yawn. a black widow who devours are made while they are still penetrating her. what does that mean? >> well, very wittily captures the fascination. such a magnetic draw to overrun the world but especially to me.
jerusalem is a lens through which you can write a history of the middle east. history of the world almost. the exciting thing about it has just been conquered by but every single race civilization you care to mention, the assyrians, babylonians, romans, greeks. and then right up to the turks, british, and now the israelis. so in every weight is up fascinating place. it is a fascinating give way, if you like, a touch see the history of the world. >> host: is jerusalem strategically located? how did it become so vital? >> guest: absolutely not. it is not strategically valuable at all. became strategically valuable when it became a greece city in the great fortress, but actually armies are invading up and down egypt, egypt invading into syria, the march up the coast like napoleon did.
another what did not mention. and they don't go anywhere near jerusalem. jerusalem is all about holiness. it is value that comes completely from being a temple city. and its prestige as the capitol and as an name in history really comes from that reason, from its sanctity. it is all about religion. >> host: when did it begin? >> guest: well, it began in the second millennium before christ at least. and it started as a small mountain top fortress just with water, a spring, and a mountaintop. of course in those days high places were often holy. have a fortress fell on the hyde, a holy place to be do need to have a spring. that is of jerusalem had. nothing special about it. what made it special and has
made a special threat history has been the decisions, the winds it -- whimsical capricious decisions of a few men to use this can night shrine, this fortress there is nothing natural about jerusalem ever in its history. jerusalem has a special power. one of those places. first of all, one of the unique things about it is that everyone feels that a new jerusalem. everyone feels that there up into jerusalem needs to be built in jerusalem if it is already there. so that is one thing. everyone feels that jerusalem is
there other home city. but the other strange thing about it is it is a city -- most cities did not want to the live there. many different peoples in it. jerusalem is always -- has always sort of infected. part of that is a religious thing. if you believe that jerusalem is a gateway to salvation, judgment day, the salvation ebersol. of course it is hard to compromise. >> host: you right, in jerusalem the truth is often much less important than the mess. >> guest: that's right. so writing this book is the most exciting and the hardest thing i've ever done. and nightmares challenge in a
way. but if we are ready about jerusalem, the myths often more powerful than the facts. the story, i want to write about the facts. in this book regardless of the agendas of of the ethnic groups or their religions and all the politics and i have tried to of the tell the truth, even when deeply inconvenient. at the same time the mets are often the things that changed history more than the actual facts. so i was always writing a history of both. for example, the most famous christian road, as opposed to a college and in jerusalem. the road to sorrow. historians now think it extremely unlikely. they think they tax the route to
the wrong location of pilots palace. as explained in the book. the biography in the book. basically it may well be geographic to the wrong place historical. millions of christians believe this is a holy place. holiness -- and this is one of the themes of the book. what makes a holy city. holy city is a place where men can encounter the divine. divinity. is definitely true in jerusalem. but part of the vanity, part of holiness, part of the heritage of pedigreed. one of the features of jerusalem is all these places have been made even more holy because somebody else finally or somebody else about him wholly before we did.
and you know, the holiness has redoubled, trouble, quadrupled. and they're is a great sort of into field to use the story, the holiness, the very stones, somebody else's victory or somebody else's temple, somebody else's palace. the building seven earlier conquests, and earlier religion, and to use those things in your own stories, your own new revelation. and that is one of the fascinations of jerusalem. when you look at it people say, how you write about jerusalem? layer upon layer of history. it isn't. it is much more like a tapestry. it is impossible to unravel. >> host: what is another one of the myths of jerusalem? >> guest: gosh, there are so many. and just trying to think. another one is the jewish, the
early high priest simon, and the good. almost certainly is in fact the tomb of this anti moment. that is another one. absolutely -- absolutely mythical. so it goes across all the religions. >> host: what are some of the more important holy sites in jerusalem? >> guest: the key site, the first sight, the quayside is the temple mount. that is the center of it all. that is where it all happened. >> host: what happens? >> guest: the temple mount is the place where solomon built that jewish temple, the first temple and his own palace to there. after that was destroyed by the babylonians. the second temple was built
there, and this temple was then rebuild by herod the great. he built the most magnificent temple in the most magnificent city that jerusalem as ever had. even today. and that is the temple that jesus walked in. some is only a very familiar with. herod the great was one of the most fascinating characters in the book. the biblical henry al qaeda, if you like. and the arab dynasty or the biblical users of orchards if you can imagine that. the jewish version of justice dahlin. a fascinating character. peru, a dictator. a mass murderer, married ten times, more than and radiate. he killed three of his own children, henry al qaeda never did. most interesting thing is to kill the one woman he really
loved. herod the great was among grow. he was a perfect mixture. but the jews did not think he was a real jew. the arabs did not think he was a real arab. he was really a friend of the romans. in order to win legitimacy he married the most beautiful jewish terrorists. real jewish princess who was one of the maccabean dynasty. she loved and hated him. their relationship was of her tormented and twisted. they have children together. he had as strangled. when she was very she was buried at honey, kind of bomb that honey. he threw himself into her grave to try and find her again. he loved her so much in never recovered. so fascinating character, herod the great, but he also built probably the most successful and beautiful religious building ever built, the temple, the
greatest temple, the second temple, but the greatest manifestation. and it only stood for about 70 years before it was destroyed by titus and the romans in 70 a.d. a terrible complication and destruction of jerusalem. >> host: simon sebag montefiore, what is the islamic hold on jerusalem? >> guest: that is a very important story, too. reciting the corona. he adopted, respected, commandeered, borrowed much of the holiness of the jewish and christian profits and included them. he believed that islam was the real and final revelation. these were early. the jewish and christian were early revelations that have lost cause a blessing. and therefore jerusalem, though never mentioned perce in the carotid is most probably referred to like a faraway shrine. and win the -- when he talked
about jerusalem, when the early muslims talk about jerusalem, their belief was the final day, a judgment day was imminent and that that could only take place in jerusalem. therefore it want to conquer jerusalem especially. when they did stalker they immediately went to the temple mount with a temple had stood and watched to create that because it had been the jewish temple. therefore when there were building the empire they builds the rock there in 691. and that after the temple was the islamic temple, if you like. it was built in order to overpower the christian holy sites which were there, the church and the holy sepulchre, the great christian shrine interco of jewish history and to promote the islamic empire. so a fascinating building. again, one of the beautiful and successful imperial and religious buildings. >> host: you write in jerusalem that part of your
family model or your family model includes jerusalem. how did that come about? speech to an ancestor of mine was a victorian who lived like a nord. very wealthy finance cirque who was partners in business. it happens that he was also jewish. very proud of his duty isn't. he went six for seven times to jerusalem. when you had to go by carriage and ship pt had to go with bodyguards and guns. he fell in love the jerusalem. in 1860 he built the first jewish settlement, if you like, outside the old city walls. it was also virtually the first settlement. soon afterwards the arab aristocratic arab palestinian family started to build their suburbs around the old city. so in almost the same time the
jews and the arabs start to build suburbs around the walls. his was the first. he built the wind no, which is still there which is very beautiful. victoria windmills. what the hell it is doing? it is totally out of place. and it's interesting. because this place was used as a fortress in 1948 by jewish fighters. two or three times arab fighters tried to storm this jewish suburb and the one now. the british were, of course, backing the arabs. they blew the top off. anyway, he so loved jerusalem's he adopted. i have it on my ring. very proud of that connection. >> host: what is the british involvement in jerusalem, palestine, it's a truck? >> british involvement is very
similar to the american involvement today. it originated -- a large part of it stems from evangelicals believe that a jewish jerusalem could, should, will ultimately lead to judgment day, the second coming of christ. so victorian muscular christians in england were very attractive to jerusalem for this reason. tenders into a forward position in the middle east. of course jerusalem was part of that. in 1917, the first world war they defeated the ottoman empire into jerusalem. they had a jewish man kayten. in 1916, a key moment, 1917, the
british empire was in desperation to win the war. american had just joined the first world war. pressure was sputtering on the verge of revolution. and to two or three different groups, the arabs, the jews as well as to the russians. in the end controversial decision and one that led to the state of israel. and the british, having started this process, they lost the will, they lost the power. the cost and treasurer and blood was too much for them. when faced with the jewish and arab resistance they basically -- not a proud day.
they basically just kind of -- 1948, they just left to. a terrible mess. the united nations had no teeth, no troops on the ground. a huge war for all the countries fought for jerusalem. and ultimately jerusalem was split. reunited in 67, as we all know. has been ruled by israel ever since. >> host: you and your book in jerusalem in 1967. why? >> guest: it's the moment at the present day situation was created. the book does, in fact, go right up to netanyahu and obama. the storming of jerusalem by israeli forces in 67. it is a moment that changed history completely. change the state and nature of
his robe. it changed the character of israel because it was such an exciting moment for jews all over the world, christians over the world. it was such an inspiring moment, exciting moment. even for secular jews it was an almost messianic moment. it seemed like united jerusalem and jews could again pray at the western wall, the place, as jews college, which was all that was left of paris temple which we talked about earlier. it's a very vital moment. everything that came after, everything that we have today comes from this moment. so it is said spectacular and exciting place. so much has happened since. we go into all the details of that. obama at netanyahu and all the
rest of. >> host: one of the sidelines that i saw in your book was that mary magdalene's and is there. >> guest: well, there are all manner of sort of relics in jerusalem. and there are all sorts of things. i mean, there are sorus, hands. there are all sorts of fascinating relics in the church of the holy sepulchre. you know, she is just one of those -- she's one of the women who were buried in jerusalem, the women who have relaxed there. he played a part in the jerusalem story. in fact, women are very important. you know, the church of the holy sepulchre as we see it today, that wonderful church was built by the margaret thatcher of the crusades.
a wonderful character, beautiful woman, half french have armenian . historians at the time said that she was as intelligent as a man which was high praise. and she built the church of the holy sepulchre. it's our building. her body is in jerusalem. her real body is buried in jerusalem. and, of course, many other wonderful women, including my favorite one. in world war ii she was a jewish lebanese princess, and arab pop singer, the britney spears of the arab world. and she was also an egyptian telstar. she caused havoc, having affairs with men and women at every single possible site, a palestinian, british, french, american, egyptian, a lot.
she -- when hurt @booktv she crashed in the river she says her death was like and narrative, like marilyn monroe, the great mystery. the candidates for having killed there were virtually everybody. the mi, the british secret service, the egyptian king, you name it. anyone might have to go there because she had so many enemies. she seduced everybody. definitely one of the heroines of jerusalem. >> host: who lives in jerusalem now? what is the population? >> guest: well, it is now overwhelmingly a jewish city. it is more jews than it is ever been. at thank you is something like 200,000 palestinians living
there. and there is something like nine or 800,000 depending on the municipality. so it's overwhelming. it's more jewish than it has ever been since the days of herod the great. it's a beautiful city now. the archaeological sites there are astonishing. for example, by the western wall that were pushed off the temple mounds by the roman soldiers of titus. they are here. you can see the astonishing palaces. the first arab dynasty who love jerusalem. they built these palaces of so i that they could ride their horses across the bridge on to
the temple mount from the palaces. and so jewish history or arab and muslim history is never been easy to is the more fascinated. the complexity of the city is there and beautifully presented. >> host: hal is the temple mount managed? >> guest: well, that's a good question. it's actually run by the muslim community. and when the israelis ticket in 67 the military hero who organized the victory of 67, astonishing israeli victory, he went and sat down and took his shoes off and sat down with all the leaders. basically control the temple
mount. that is the way it should be, in fact. he was actually a very wise character who understood the way business is done in the middle east. the negotiation. and that is why it is remained ever since. obviously there are very few extremists who would like to rebuild the jewish temple. that's not going to happen. and the buildings, the mosque, even for a jewish person like me , as a historian, some of the most beautiful buildings and i've. so it's quite right. the management of the temple mount should remain exactly is it is. >> host: is jerusalem the capital of israel? >> guest: i think it is. but i think ultimately it's probably one they will be shared in some form or another. as you know, the actual agreement, the actual deal of
how you would divide up the adjuster's slump, but the occupied territories of the west bank, however you want to call it, the actual deal mahua, the parameters are well known. that is sort of the deal. like each side would get their own holy places to run their own holy places. the christian in ammine quarters will be split in some way between the israelis and palestinians. the capital of both countries. as still believe in a two-stage solution, the best way to go. when you look as a historian when you read this sort of stuff, when you read the story so much bloodshed. what's important is that both sides need to recognize the stories, the narrative, the tragedy, the tribe of the others side.
and if that was possible, my book contributed to that and anyway, that's one of the reasons i reuter to the people to see the full story unvarnished from both sides. >> host: you're right in your book, you tried to write this history without a political agenda. at the do that? >> guest: it's impossible, of course. i bend over backwards to do it. this book is just coming out -- it just came out in arabic. is coming out in hebrew send. >> host: it came out in arabic? >> guest: i've had thousands of letters from all of the arab world. one of the things this book is, it's about the people that made jerusalem, it's about the women that may jerusalem and the families. cities and made by families. and so is that royal dynasty, is also above the great arab
ministers that i mentioned, the great palestinians. what i did was i wanted to tell that story. i found a member of each of those families and got their stories. those stories are in this book. not many of the books of palestine and israel, so the family stories are amazing. great characters. also the jewish family in my own family to a certain extent. and so for many arab readers, they don't find this tree in books, but i kind of adopted the attitude that i could not believe everybody in that shouldn't. what mattered was the truth, as close as you can get it. i was told when i started to read this book, if you say it didn't exist and kill you. but palestinian friends, if you don't mention this and that
about the palestinian cause will kill you. mammy and friends of the same. sire realize that they should not aim to please everybody. the first governor of jerusalem in 1917, 1918. linearized he soon fell out with both the arabs and jews. you went to the british prime minister and said both sides a complaining about me, prime minister. all have to resign. larry church said, absolutely not. if either side stops complaining of betty of the fired. so at this "beside my desk. the thing was not to please everybody. discloses a can to the facts. thus the big challenge. >> host: did king david exist check. >> guest: he did. but there is very little evidence that he did not just except the bible. there is evidence. i think he did exist.
i started getting all these texts. there was a built-in. is talking about your book. talking about your book. he was wonderful about it. he thought it was -- he raved about his. it was spectacular. he loved the book. the whatever it is, 200, about 100 in about an hour. it was very nice when people like clinton for kissinger. >> host: david cameron. >> host: very nice for people there are working with jerusalem , involved in the peace process, involving israel and
the middle east. people like that read the book and sort of appreciated. especially bill clinton, kissinger obviously because both of them are american statesmen who have been deeply involved. >> host: are either of them friends of yours? >> guest: no, they just read the book. i mean, kissinger had also read my the buck. so it's just lovely when people like that like to work. it's a dream come true. >> host: this is book tv on c-span2. we are in london currently talking with author and historian simon sebag montefiore we have been talking about his most recent nonfiction book "the jerusalem: the biography." but you did mention your writings on russia. what influence does your family have on your russian history books? >> guest: i think my father's family are jews from italy.
>> host: what does that mean? >> guest: in the arab world from the mediterranean as opposed to lead germany and russia. and you have lots above and america. but my mother's family the from the ukraine, from russia. always been fascinated by russia for that reason. as the origin of my obsession with russia, the soviets have premise of. >> host: young stalin, what can we learn about the future dictator stalin from his use? >> guest: everything. it was such fun. trusty said that young stalin missed the revolution. in fact, this book is like butch cassidy and the sundance kid combined with the russian revolution. he was a specialist in assassination and in bank
robberies. in his 1907 bank robbery made the headlines all over the world he held up a stagecoach. it was like that puts cassidy antithesis. the killed enormous numbers of people. they got away with the equivalent of like $20 million. lenin's bolshevik party. the interesting thing is no one has been able to prove that stalin actually organized this bank robbery. he actually kill the people who could prove it. when he became a world statesman he did not want to seem like a bank robber. so he basically killed everyone, changed all the materials. some of the stuff, some of the materials that proved his involvement or in the georgian archives. and the president let me into these archives very kindly because there were closed.
inside i found fascinating evidence. the really interesting thing about it was apart from the story which is just amazing. they held at the stagecoach. they killed all the costs six to reject around. and then at the last minute when of course is the of the runoff with the money to of the gangsters ran off and blew up, blew themselves up. they got the money. stalin was smoking a cigarette in a doorway watching all of this is usual. what was interesting was in every bank robbery he needed inside man. so i found the memoirs, the inside man. and you know why he helped stalin set up this bank robbery? he admired not stalin's politics or communism but the public. he admired his poetry. because before he was a bolshevik revolution is to was a public pellet.
his poetry was highly regarded. and this man said as a love your palm and have a tip for you. is a stagecoach arriving with 300,000 rubles and a. i'm going to tell you all the details on a. >> host: why did stalin initially joined? >> guest: he was a fanatical believer in marxism. he believed it was justice. he believed in the progress of history, struggles of the proletariat. he also believe that he himself was history personified. yet a special role to play. he created himself from nothing. his real name committee adopted the man this deal stolen name. >> host: ... relationship with clinton? >> guest: very close. exactly the type of man that we need. the reason why he succeeded in becoming the soviet leader was because the combined two
different sorts of politicians. politics, a politician it is pico, who can write articles, it can think of ideas. there is the political leader who is good that assassinations, bank robberies, sicker workers. what the russians call blackwork will work. and stalin was unusual in that he could do both. and if the soviet union had become a peaceful country, just become surreally accepted by everybody panel probably would have never become leader. because it became -- to was board from incredible brutality, the most extreme, the most brutal man it could do all these things, who had both the characteristics you need to be successful in a country of more, stalin won the contest to be leader.
it was not a coincidence. the way he became stolid, the way he made himself, through violence, the secret world, many, many low fares surprisingly. it's all based on these new archives i found in georgia. >> host: he followed that up. two questions, why the reds are and how did the folks around him, how did his court -- >> guest: the reds are because he was written about as an enigma, a sort of satanic gray devil like a man who was going to a take total brutality. but was very lucky. i started -- my first book was catherine the great. the russians and people around love this book. as a result they give me access to his papers which were just opening.
so i was able to write the book. to write about stalin as if you're writing about louis the 43rd game is gone, not as a communist, but not in the ideological way. the medieval king. and the archives enabled me to write about this and to show that there were all ideological fanatics. and not just in communism. they believe that you needed to use bloodletting, killing to reengineer society, to create a new society. stalin took it further. all of them believed it and talked about it. though prices of people. >> host: did the soviet archives detail how many people died? >> guest: the sort of. he read letters.
you literally see the tragedy is . signed by stalin and all his people. also amazingly humane stuff and then. one file about stalin's daughter at which age seven she pretends to be dictator brush yourself. for secretary of the communist party here by band hall hallmark in the soviet union for the next six months. these laws are all signed by the in tehran government of russia. so it is interesting. these allow us to read for the first time about the human stalin. by the way, is not to apologize or conceal his character or the brutality of the regime. in fact, i think it highlights a
much more strongly because it boils down to these were real people, not diabolical, or found characters. zephyr -- to use things like the letters to show how the accord worked, how power works, and how the top families of the top 50 leaders lift. >> host: award winning bit -- books. how did he live? did he live like as are? >> guest: he did not live with the splendor. he lived quite modestly, but he had enormous numbers of houses all over the soviet union. in fact, one of the interesting things was i went around all the houses that he had, many of them beautiful overlooking the black sea. one of the ladies show me around. very old lady who is about 90 something police said to me, oh,
yes. i said to her, i wanted to make sure that no one else had been around there before me. has anyone else spin around these houses? want to be the first to show them in my book. she said to me, no, no one has been around for a long time except there was that arab gentleman who came around. what was his name? said jonassaint. and so of course saddam hussein was an obsessed with stalin. he was being taken by the kgb. i want to see every single house of stalin's. so he is the only other person apart from the who a spin around every one of his houses and seen how he lived. >> host: simon sebag montefiore, what are your current and near future projects?
>> a family in russia. a book about love. based on true stories as well. but in history, researching now the history of the romanovs, the whole dynasty from 1613 to 1917, always ending up with nicholas and alexandra. and a living doing that. it's really exciting. of course a lot less stressful than writing about jerusalem. >> host: you have another project coming out after that speech to the world. >> host: the world a biography? >> guest: the history of the world. they said to me, would you do it? it's not going to be a long book. it's more of the literary book a more philosophical. a different sort of history book it will have notes. what have this sort of pantheon book of history. everything in it. it will actually be more fascinating.
it will be probably the shortest book i have written, in fact, of all my books. it is going to be -- it is going to be a literary philosophical look at life in the world. but through the lives of people. that's why it's called a biography. rather like i did in jerusalem. that will be one hell of a challenge, but it is wildly exciting. >> host: we have been talking on book tv in london with simon sebag montefiore, author and historian. you're watching book tv on c-span2. >> for more operation on these and other interviews from london , visit booktv.org and once book tv every sunday at 6:00 p.m. over the next several weeks for more. >> you're watching book tv. coming up next, jeff guinn
recalls the life of charles manson. he reports on how manson was able to influence and motivate the members of the manson family to murder seven people on successive evenings in august of 1969. this is just over an hour. [applause] >> thanks a lot. when i write nonfiction i basically start with a single premise, that events never happen in a vacuum. anything is the results of many past actions where different people grew up, what they thought, how they mix together, and then at. there is no one simple answer to anything. when i do write these books such high-tech ticket to american history. when i wrote about bonnie and clyde was really writing about